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Re: Help get math turned back on in Chrome

From: Dave Barton <dbarton@mathscribe.com>
Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2013 19:45:28 -0800
To: www-math@w3.org
Message-Id: <D608A829-5005-4274-A9AD-949837AC060F@mathscribe.com>
On Feb 8, 2013, at 12:30 PM, Paul Topping wrote:
> It is important to focus our efforts on the real barriers to adding MathML support. There is no reason to believe that browser makers are slow at adding MathML support because of perceived cost. Instead, I am pretty sure it is just a matter of priority (based on perceived customer demand) and limited availability of programmers with sufficient expertise. This was the case with Mozilla. It was only the availability, effort, and diligence of Roger Sidje that got it done. I am sure others helped but his contribution was crucial and it wouldn’t have happened without it. Cost is clearly not the issue with Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Google hired 3 people full-time to work on SVG. They could hire someone to work on MathML, and talked about doing it at one point. Or I believe that any of the current google webkit developers I've met would be fine on MathML if they worked on it for several months at least (trying to rush in and out in a week or two has led to problems, since they didn't have time to even read the relevant portions of the MathML spec).

I know of someone qualified who applied for a MathML position at Mozilla, and was turned down due to lack of funds.

I want to say that I'm not trying to bash Google, I'm just trying to clarify the current situation for folks interested in MathML. These companies can run themselves however they want. Also, someone has pointed out to me that since I was a volunteer, of course I would like my work maintained and improved, instead of turned off or even discarded. Also MathML spec authors of course would like to see their creation used in the real world.

None of that should matter to you others. The real question for you is, do you want the math standard for the web to be supported the same way graphics standards like .gif, .png, .jpg, .svg and canvas are? There is no debate any more about which math standard to use, or its quality. The answer is MathML. We can live without browser support, just like graphics software used to. But if we could put mathematics easily in web pages and everything else that the 3-4 big html engines support, then just like for graphics the whole field would suddenly explode and become accessible to a *much* larger number of people. Both free and commercial software would have a common interchange format and a guarantee that basically everyone can easily view their output (and input). Digital textbooks could contain equations that were easily edited, graphed, fed to computer algebra systems, etc. Scientists and engineers could more easily communicate and share their work. Students and teachers could communicate mathematically.

This will be my final message on this here, I sincerely hope. I'm just saying, if you would like the web to support education, science, and technology, and not just advertising, videos, and social networks, then please talk about it, blog or share about it, or star google's issue about it. Or send a message here. Without naming pet projects, I have a background in computer algebra, graphing software, and education. All would benefit tremendously if MathML were more fully supported on the web, including (especially) by Chrome. If you are an expert in a MathML-related field (likely if you are reading this list), then please consider posting a similar statement here, if you think better MathML support would be valuable in your field(s) also.

- Dave B.
Received on Sunday, 10 February 2013 03:45:57 GMT

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